Iranian FM calls military action against Iran 'political suicide'

Iran’s foreign minister traveled to Japan to discuss how to reduce tensions in the region and responses to "bullying" from the United States.

al-monitor Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meets Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono in Tokyo, Japan, May 16, 2019. Photo by REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon.

Topics covered

jcpoa, japan, iran sanctions, donald trump, us-iranian conflict, iran nuclear deal, iran deal, mohammad javad zarif

May 16, 2019

During a trip to Japan, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke to journalists regarding the latest status of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the increasing tension with the United States.

Zarif said that any military action by the group he dubbed the B-team (national security adviser John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed) would be “political suicide.”

Zarif accused the group of seeking a military conflict in the region and said that he explained to his Japanese counterpart “ways to reduce tension in the region and stop America’s warmongering actions.” Zarif added, “Iran has always defended its interests with power and will continue to do so now.”

Regarding the US decision to exit the JCPOA and reimpose sanctions amid Iran’s continued compliance with the nuclear deal, Zarif asked, “Does the civilized world accept American bullying against those who have followed the law and have implemented Security Council resolutions?” The United States has threatened any country continuing to do business with Iran with sanctions and has called on countries who purchase Iranian oil to drop their imports to zero. While the International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed that Iran has fully complied with the JCPOA since its signing, Tehran recently announced it will make some modifications if European countries are unable to provide avenues to conduct trade.

Tehran has made it clear that while it believes a war with the United States will not happen, it is not afraid of one. Some Iranian officials, particularly in the military, have talked about the country’s ability and readiness to repel any attacks. Diplomatic officials have downplayed the likelihood of war between the United States and Iran while stressing the need to reduce tensions to prevent a confrontation.

Iran’s representative to the United Nations, Majid Takht Ravanchi, told the Wall Street Journal that Iran is not a threat to anyone in Iraq. The United States announced yesterday that it would pull non-essential staff from Iraq given the heightened tensions with neighboring Iran. The UK announced today that it would also pull staff out of Iraq due to “heightened risk from Iran.”

Iran’s Defense Minister Amir Hatami said May 15 that Iran “is at the highest point with military-defensive readiness for any type of threat” and that the United States and its regional allies are aware of its preparedness. Hatami said that Iran will “pass through this sensitive era with its head held high and the American-Israeli front will taste a bitter defeat.”

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Hossein Salami also spoke about the heightened tensions with the United States on May 15. “Because the enemy has used all of its potential capabilities in the arena of confrontation, this point in history is the most fateful point in the Islamic Revolution,” Salami said. He added, “With the strategy of maximum pressure and bringing all of its abilities to the arena, the enemy has tried to bring uncertainty in the minds and hearts.”

Salami concluded, “Our enemy has reached the end of the line and contrary to appearances is suffering from brittleness from within.”

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